The Business of Learning

Training Trends for 2014: Natural Resources

According to studies by Deloitte and McKinsey, spending on corporate training in the US grew by 12% in 2012. Though final stats for 2013 should be available in a few weeks, we know that 2012 saw the highest growth rate in 8 years—and the upward trend is expected to continue. Why?

Despite continuing unemployment in some locations, specialized skills are still hard to find. Highly skilled professionals must continuously reinvent themselves and become relevant to specific niche industries. In addition, managers tell us that educational institutions are simply not developing graduates who come to work equipped with the appropriate job skills.

Leadership Vision Trends 2014: Natural Resources
Tracy Cox, Director
Applied Strategies

RPS serves the natural resources industry and several segments operating in high-consequence environments — including oil and gas and energy/utilities. These industries are facing immense market pressures to become increasingly agile in their operations to adjust to a constantly shifting landscape—characterized by unprecedented changes in technology, regulation, workforce demographics, as well as expanding globalization.  These trends create a plethora of delivery challenges for learning and development programs—while also incorporating brand new concepts, such as “gamification,” social learning, Return on Expectations (ROE), hackathons, and others.

In light of this volatility and change, we asked Tracy Cox, director of Applied Strategies at Raytheon Professional Services, to review the key macro trends in L&D for the oil and gas industry going into 2014.

  1. “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”  For many oil and gas companies in exploration and drilling, variability tolerance is minimal, and data security is paramount; therefore, the latest trendy tools and delivery methods, such as “user-generated” content and open-ended platforms are typically difficult to execute.  Whether implementing instructor-led, web-based, or blended curricula, organizations involved in high-stakes outcomes continue to require precisely architected, validated, secured learning solutions that help them meet the most rigorous compliance standards with reliability and accuracy.
  2. Business stakeholders and decision-makers are becoming more risk averse.  Due to an increasingly litigious society, decisions impacting operations, expenditures and performance are coming under greater and greater levels of  scrutiny and requirements for ROI justification—particularly  in light of growing ambiguities around regulatory authorities and compliance standards.  Given the multiple layers of regulations and the lack of jurisdiction clarity, industry operators are looking for answers and solutions—ways to be the best stewards of their resources, workforces and the environment.
  3. Data security drives decisions. Now more than ever, data security and integrity are essential components of any healthy, productive operation. As training increases in priority, IT security programs help limit vulnerabilities and potentially devastating exposures across the enterprise. And it is important to consider this observation in the context of the significant infrastructure challenges the organizations face—with functional redundancies, duplication of effort across a disparate enterprise, offshore installations, and the siloed nature of multinational operations.
  4. The “new workforce” has arrived. Maintaining workforce training consistency and effectiveness across oceans, terrains, and cultures is a real challenge—particularly considering the realities of the austere, dispersed oil and gas workforce. It’s about taking the learning to the learner. Adding to the workforce issue is the broader generational “crew change” as mature, experienced workers begin to retire at a more rapid rate than expected—widening and deepening the need for skilled workers more quickly.

The trends and challenges ahead are many, but so are the opportunities. Let us know what you think about Tracy’s observations. What are yours? And what’s next?

Tracy Cox is director of performance consulting for Raytheon Professional Services LLC (RPS). As director of performance consulting, Cox works with organizations to help them uncover their true worth through application of organizational network analysis, enhanced decision making techniques, innovation and Raytheon Six Sigma™.

Prior to his current responsibilities, Cox was the faculty lead for the Raytheon Leadership Institute, responsible for coordinating and delivering the Strategic Leadership Program to over 6000 Raytheon leaders.

Cox is also a founding member of the Raytheon Six Sigma Institute, where he was chief architect of the Raytheon Six Sigma curriculum for experts and specialists. He was also lead instructor for the initial roll-out of the curriculum within Raytheon.

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